Archive for October, 2018

Mark 10:46-52 “What would you ask of Jesus?”

askofJesus

They came to Jericho. As he and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Jesus stood still and said, “Call him here.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart; get up, he is calling you.” So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. Then Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man said to him, “My teacher, let me see again.” Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith has made you well.” Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way. [NRSV]

Key Question #2

At the core of our 2 Mile Neighborhood Ministry is asking on Jesus’s behalf: “What can I do for you?”

In preparation of hearing our neighbor’s requests it is a good idea to answer the question for ourselves.

If you could ask Jesus to do one thing for you…

  • one thing for our nation what would it be?
  • one thing for each county of central and South American?
  • one thing for the people of the gulf coast and North Carolina?
  • one thing for the people of Pittsburg?
  • one thing for our church?
  • one thing for our school or work?
  • one thing about your marriage what would it be?
  • one thing for you yourself?

Playing the Free Lottery Game

With the billion and a half lottery prize millions of people played both the free and paid version of the game. Over three billion paid to play, but many others played the free option. It’s the game you play in your head and occasionally share with others: “what would I do if I won the money?

The question is to ask ourselves is that if these are things that we have as goals and dreams, then work toward them and don’t waste our money in the mean time. [3+ BILLION tickets lost in the investment for the single winner.]

The helpful part of the process can be our goal setting. People tell me, their pastor, “if I win you know I will give a big part to the church as a thank you.”

That is a good place to start, for every dollar we waste it could be a dollar invested in sharing the love God. So be informed.

The invitation to ask Jesus for what we want?  (Wants / Needs)

In our Bible reading, Ol’ Bartimaeus calls out to Jesus pleading for Jesus to heal his blindness. Through persistent Bart gains Jesus’s attention and audience. What do you want of me? It is one of the most obvious questions in scripture.

Keeping our Sights on our Blindness

In answering the question for ourselves we offer Jesus the very thing that we cannot do for ourselves.

The obvious thing for Bart is the ability to see. As those who see many options and opportunities we are invited to reflect on the invitation before we ask.

  • We can work and earn wealth but we cannot become whole without Grace
  • We can build and trade for things but we cannot offer what we do not have
  • There is a moment when the blind outcast comes uncloaked, vulnerable and empty and asks a Jesus to fill him with healing and wholeness

We pray for persons to be healed every Sunday and every day…

What does our nation need?, it has nothing to do with who we elect or send to Washington DC or the State capital– if we are trust people who have no respect for what God can do through their leadership, we will waste our vote. Blindly following any political agenda causes us to be limited and cloaked.

It is time to be uncloaked and vulnerable.

And from that place of empty nakedness be filled and clothed in righteousness, trust, respect and love. The history separation of church and state was to protect the CHURCH from becoming a tool of the state, but our society has swung the pendulum away from morality and people of faith are mistrusted. We have allowed our moral witness to remain hidden and cloaked. For those who worship power, greed, anger, fear, and correctness will never be satisfied.

We have it bass-ackwards.
We wonder why people can get along in DC and we don’t get along with our neighbors.

  • We need to pray for leaders who are willing to learn to swim in deep waters relying on each other’s best to keep us afloat.
  • We can see clearly that attacking and holding grudges and carrying blame and a quest for credit and honor do NOT serve us well at all.
  • As a nation we saw our continental congress willing to died for the nation rather than praying for they opponents to be killed.

I pray that our nation and the nation of the whole world see the blindness of power, greed anger, rage and fear are not our best lords and master. For if these are our prize we shall certainly died bitter, divided and alone.

Our Role in the Parade

It is time that we cease to be advocates of politicians and armchair news re-casters rather we become the voice of invitation? The raiders of questions rather than the defender of answers.

  • Trust reveals truth
  • Persistence reveals opportunity
  • Uncloaking opens us to faith

Lord put me to all things and to no things brought high or made low having all things or have none. Make us on earth to be as it is in heaven we’re your Will is respected, loved and proclaimed.

The world is hungry for God and instead we are outraged over fabricated chaos that we have no ability to answer.

We are called to pray for one another and pray for God to heal and lead us.

We are called to serve and not to be served. “Ask not what you want from government,  rather ask what Christ can do for you.”

ANSWERS: What do I want from Jesus…

Before I answer, may I step in faith asking for what I cannot fix/solve/resolve/heal

Stand vulnerable before Christ and ask the for the obvious:

Make me whole, make me yours.

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Mark 10:35-45

ServeFirst
James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came forward to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.”  And he said to them, “What is it you want me to do for you?”  And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.”  But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?”  They replied, “We are able.” Then Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink; and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized;  but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.” When the ten heard this, they began to be angry with James and John.  So Jesus called them and said to them, “You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.” [NRSV]
One of the greatest threats to the church is the perception of belonging. The church does not belong to us, it belongs to God. We are the church, in Christ Jesus.
Without Jesus we are only a community organization of people attempting to show kindness for some self-serving reasons. That is not the church. Jesus came to serve us. In living, dying, rising Christ serves us as example for living, gracious salvation and eternal life: All this done as witness of God’s love for us.
A dangerous position is for us to think of how the church serve us. We ask is the church meeting my needs? Is it doing my job of parenting? Is it entertaining my attention? Am I getting a good return on my investment of tithes and offerings? Do I get enough attention, power and support?
If we ever ask ourselves any of these questions above, we are not serving Christ.
Jame and John have been following Jesus, going where Jesus sends them, attending worship and study with Jesus, they have been doing whatever he needed. They felt they had earned a “point-of-privilege.”
The powerful relevance of the church is lost when we IN the church switch places from serving to being served.
This comes at every age and level of participation. For life-time members, we feel we have earned a place for others to serve — its time for to receive the fruit of our labors. For visitors and our newest members we are just getting connected and others should make a way for us. As children and youth, our parents and grand parents and other ‘grown-ups’ should do for us. If you have ever thought, the minister/preacher/pastor should do this or that.. most likely it is a place God is calling you to serve.
Tommye McCoy, a forty-four year Christian Education Minister taught me the secret of the ordain ministry: You should do 100% of what God calls you to do and 90% of what the church expects you to do.
So here we are. We introduced our new “2 Mile” ministry goal. We are claiming the responsibility to reach out to the over 1000 people who live within 2 miles of our address.
Our ministry will ultimately be to serve Jesus Christ with these persons in two primary ways: 1) Prayer, and 2) Service.
We are going to model an introductory conversation this morning  (call on leaders to help)
1. Member: Knock/Ring “Hello my name is “John” I am a member of Rock Spring UMC and we would like to pray for you today. Is there something you would like for us to pray with you about something? some need? some concern?
Neighbor: Yes. My husband is having surgery  /  No. I have a church
Member: We would love to pray for him. What is his name and when is the surgery?  /            We are glad you have a church, we are only wanting to pray today, if you like
Neighbor: His name is Henry, it’s next Tuesday.  /  No thank you,
Member:   Let’s pray right now. “Jesus, we lift Henry to you today and pray for his surgery. We pray for the doctors and nurses and all will give him care. Fill him with your Holy Spirit as we pray for his healing and wholeness today. Amen  /  I will share this with our prayer team right away.
2. Member: Is there something we can do to serve you today?
Neighbor:  No, thank you  / Yes,  Can you bring my mail in from the mail box, pick up a paper, rake my leaves, Can you give my husband and I a ride to the hospital on Tuesday.
Member:  I’d love to help.  /  I’m not available Tuesday but I will find someone at the church, may I call you this afternoon when I find a ride? What is the best number to call?
Neighbor: Great, here is my number   /   No, get off my porch and don’t come back!
Member: Bless you!
Member –> update the office with the prayer, and find some people to help serve, x 1000 neighbors.  [200 members each contacting 5 neighbor in the next 12 months.]
In this process we are SHOWING Christ to our neighbors
In this ministry we are reminding each other that our work as Christians is to serve
In this reaching out, we show the world around us GOD at work.
In this service, we trust the Holy Spirit to lead, protect and empower us.
We are going to practice today and for the next several weeks.
Some of you will reach out to people door to door
Some of you can call on the phone
Some of you will talk with people wherever to are or travel
Some of you will be ready to prayer
Some of you will be ready to drive, rake, clean, feed, shop, visit, sit, paint or more
Some of you will help up stay organized in this process
Some of you will help us follow up with our neighbors.
ALL OF US need to SHARE this ministry.
We all know that our Denomination and all our churches are headed for some rocky and rough weather, rather than sit here and wait for trouble…
WE ARE GOING TO BE THE CHURCH
We are going to witness being the body of Christ
We are going to serve and pray
We are going to depend on EVERY member to help in this ministry
We are going to hold each other in prayer and accountability.
And when we are done with this ministry. We are going to celebrate how God has used us to multiply loaves and fishes.
We are going to share stories of how people’s lives are set free in Christ
We are going to look forward to all that God has in store for us in the years ahead.
We are going to SHOW Rock Spring and the world that Jesus Christ lives in us!
Are you with me.

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Homecoming, by another way Oak Grove 2018 Matthew 2:7-12

Homecoming, by another way Oak Grove 2018

7 Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. 8 He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.” 9 After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route. [NRSV]

I have such wonderful memories of racing out from Emerson to Euharlee and trying to beat the long coal train heading to-and-from the Bowen. It is so good to be back. I have been here on a cold and snowing morning when it was only two, and no more and we had Good Preaching. So I hope that is the case today. I am proud to see the growth of the ministries and good work at Oak Grove and am honored to be with you today.

I began to think back about the years I was pastor, student and neighbor. The years would have been between 1985 and 1989. Some remarkable things happened while we were in ministry together:

• The infamous “New Coke” was released, The Titanic found, The first report of Mad Cow disease

• and Madonna was holding the place Taylor Swift holds today. Michael Jackson released his “Bad” album and MTV actually played music videos.

• The Kroger in Cartersville and Town Center Mall opened. The news of the Atlanta Olympics was

• The movies out during that time included: Back to the Future, Top Gun and Dirty Dancing

• Some notable songs were: Walk like an Egyptian, The theme from Phantom of the Opera, and We are the World.

• Imagine back to the time of the start of the Internet, the first Game Boy and Nintendo, The first intel processor and MS Office and Windows debuted.

• We were witnesses of Haley’s comet, the Galileo mission to Jupiter and removal of the Berlin Wall with Mr Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan.

• People were watching: “The Cosby Show”, “Cheers”, “Hill Street Blues”, Johnny Carson, Magnum PI and the start of the Simpsons.

We are not the same people today. The world has changed and is changing in a whirlwind of transformation. As our denomination looks ahead to the Winter of 2019 we know that more change is to be expected.

As important it is to look back and remember from where we have come, it is the witness of the magi that call us to look to the present and prepare for the future.

I have always found it remarkable that the Bible contains the story of people of faith who look for God in the movement of the starts, in a distant country with a different culture and perspectives and yet God is self-revealing in all creation.

I had a conversation with young man in his mid-twenties who was convinced that there was no need for God. The wonders and marvels of creation were but the finely tuned change of random variables that brought him more peace and “common sense” to his perspective. I asked him from where did the forces of gravity, fission, fusion, physics, mathematic and love evolve. He uncomfortably had no clear answer except to say they were only explained as observations that followed rather than formed the universe. He left the conversation and went home the same person. I hope that some of the conversation helped change his fears and desire to control rather than to follow and trust.

We live in a divided culture that is more segregated than at any moment in our lifetimes. The struggles leading through Civil Rights Era and the Civil War are not our finest moments. Now more than ever are we needing to make a life-giving, hope-sharing, love-trusting impact on the world around us.

When I was at Oak Grove I was married to Sarah Jane, who search the Cassville Church for a couple of the years. We enjoyed covered dish dinners, singings, and being with you in worship and in your homes. That is no longer the relationship that shapes my life. She loved the idea of being married much more than being married to me. I didn’t share that at the time, as I was immature and unwilling to share what it mean to fully share what it means to be a community of faith. I finally learned that 1) clergy are people who struggle with marriage too, 2) I’d be happier unmarried or married for a few years than to be miserable for 50 pretending a marriage. 3) I have learned that God’s path for us is only as straight and narrow as our willingness to trust. But grace goes before, with and behind us.

Now I have three children: Susanna at Stanford, Luke at 1st Leu in the AF, and Frances a sophomore studying AP Chinese and my wife Wendy is beginning her second career in Insurance. (If you ever seen the Hot-ones sign, a Hardees star, a Georgia Tourism commercial or a magazine in a plastic bag you have seen her work.) The past ten years we have cared for her parents in our home, her mom having Dementia and her father having Kidney failure, was not the road that we had planned, but God has carried us through a different way that blessed and shaped us profoundly.

Why the Wise-men passage on Home Coming?

During my years at Emerson and Oak Grove, Singer, James Taylor, released a song by David Bailey called, Home By Another Way. David Bailey was the son of a Presbyterian minister. As a fellow preacher’s kid the song resonated with me: Here was a famous hippy trippy ballad rocker singing about a bible verse: Not the paths that typically cross. Listen to the lyrics of his song:

Those magic men the Magi, Some people call them wise, Or Oriental, even kings, Well anyway, those guys

They visited with Jesus, They sure enjoyed their stay, Then warned in a dream of King Herod’s scheme

They went home by another way

Steer clear of royal welcomes, Avoid a big to-do, A king who would slaughter the innocents, Will not cut a deal for you, He really, really wants those presents, He’ll comb your camel’s fur

Until his boys announce they’ve found trace amounts, Of your frankincense, gold and myrrh

Time to go home by another way

Home is where they want you now, You can more or less assume that you’ll be welcome in the end

Mustn’t let King Herod haunt you so, Or fantasize his features when you’re looking at a friend

Well it pleasures me to be here, And to sing this song tonight, They tell me that life is a miracle, And I figured that they’re right, But Herod’s always out there, He’s got our cards on file

It’s a lead pipe cinch, if we give an inch, Old Herod likes to take a mile

It’s best to go home by another way

Home by another way

What does it mean to Go Home, by another way?

To God home is hopefully a place of security, grounding and belonging.

Hear the Good News: God’s home, “Oikos”, is with us! With us!

It starts in a garden, it travels in a wilderness, it crosses paths in the crucifixion, it opens through an empty tomb, it blow as the wind around us, and surrounds us.

We are not who were once were:

In Christ we are those who make straight the paths for others

In grasp of the Holy Spirit we are those who open hearts and conversations

In the love of God we are those who God is creating new life and ways of living.

I regret that I must leave without a longer visit but I am leading a class for the district to build our skills in sharing Difficult Conversations as churches and church folks. As I look back on the Roads and Paths that God has lead, carried, and immersed me, I see at:

• Oak Grove taught me that God can take a mustard seed an make something grand and purposeful beyond our dreams.

• Grant Park I learned from one of the most diverse congregations in the Southeast what it means to share love

• In some other congregations I learned what looks like when we live in fear, pride, greed and worship of self.

• At Candler and Gammon I learned how to prepare for God to use me in changing ministry conditions.

• At Rock Spring I am ready to see how God will lead us into being a relevant part of the body of Christ in the 21st century.

The message I have received from much prayer, much prayer, much study, much conversation, much reflection, writing and reading is this:

1. Change is to be assuredly expected. (It is ok to embrace change, WHEN God leads us.)

2. What will be has not yet been revealed.

3. But when it is revealed: Count on seeing Jesus or not seeing at all.

• Therefore it is all important to make our home in God who does not change.

• Therefore it is essential that we find our way through what has been revealed.

• Therefore it is our purpose, passion and path to stick with Jesus, not for our sake but for Christ.

God Lord, we give thanks for these and all other blessing, for Christ’s sake. Amen.

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Hebrews 4:12-16 Grace in times of Need

throneofgod (2)Indeed, the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And before him no creature is hidden, but all are naked and laid bare to the eyes of the one to whom we must render an account. Since, then, we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. [NRSV]

A large part of what is dividing our church is summed up in this passage from Hebrews.

  • The Word of God is living and active. (Not an idol that is worshiped.)
  • The Word of God is not always comforting.
  • The Word of God divides the soul from the spirit, joints from the marrow.
  • The Word judges thoughts of our minds and intentions of our hearts.
  • We have more than a written word, Jesus Christ, our high priest,
  • exposes all that is good and all that is evil,
  • all that is fired up and that which lukewarm and that this is cold and empty.

Our response to place our whole self in Jesus’s program, team and alumni program.

Approach the Throne of Grace with BOLDNESS So that we by RECEIVE Mercy and find God and Grace in our time of need.

  • When do we Need God’s grace?
  • When we have sinned and fallen short
  • When we have faithfully followed, praise and serve.
  • When we forget that we are naked before God.
  • How does a team take the field in college football?
    • Assuming they will lose or
    • Confident they will win?
    • Somewhere in between?

Go onto the field of your daily life with BOLDNESS seeking MERCY and GRACE

Run passionately toward the goal in Christ,

  1. Scripture is alive, meaningful and powerful
  2. Jesus Christ is our High Priest, our Worship Leader, our present Guide
  3. Live BOLDLY trusting you are naked without being clothed in Christ.
  4. knowing you will be renewed, refreshed and whole in Christ with Mercy and Grace.

Simply Sermon: Taking God seriously only when we

 

 

 

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